NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is mourning the loss of Pro Football Hall of Famer Claude Humphrey, who passed away on Dec. 3 at the age of 77.
Humphrey was an All-American defensive tackle at TSU who went on to be one of the greatest pass rushers in the National Football League. Humphrey played for the Tigers from 1964 to 1967. He was initially an offensive tackle, but was switched to defensive end his freshman year, where he became a three-time All-American.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
“I would like to extend my deepest condolences to Mr. Humphrey’s family during this very difficult time,” said Dr. Mikki Allen, TSU’s director of athletics. “Mr. Humphrey was truly loved by his TSU family and across the landscape of football.”
During the 1980 season with the Philadelphia Eagles, Humphrey totaled a team-high 14.5 sacks on the way to an NFC Championship and an appearance in Super Bowl XV.
“He played the game with passion and was a hard worker in an era when sacks weren’t an official stat,” said Allen. ”For that, he was properly enshrined as a Hall of Famer as one of the original great pass rushers.”
Even though the sack didn’t become an official NFL statistic until after he retired, Humphrey is still credited with 122 career sacks, including holding the all-time career sacks mark for the Falcons with 94.5
“His spirit will live on forever at Tennessee State as a gentleman on-an-off the field,” said Allen.
Humphrey is in the Tennessee State University Hall of Fame, the Georgia Hall of Fame, the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame, the Tennessee Hall of Fame, the Atlanta Falcons Hall of Fame, and his high school’s Hall of Fame. Humphrey’s college and high school both retired his jersey.
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Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Former Tennessee State All-American defensive end Richard Dent will be inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
Dent is among seven players going into the Hall from a list of 25 finalists. The announcement was made Wednesday.
Dent was a three-time All-American who recorded 39 sacks during his TSU career (1979-82) along with 158 tackles.
TSU retired Dent’s jersey No. 95 in 2013 after he became the first former Tigers player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
Dent was an eighth-round pick of the Chicago Bears in the 1983 NFL draft. In 1986 he was named most valuable player of Super Bowl XX.
In his 15 NFL seasons, which also included stints with the 49ers, Colts and Eagles, Dent recorded 137.5 sacks.
Joining Dent in the Black College Football Hall of Fame 2015 class is Roger Brown (Maryland Eastern Shore), L.C. Greenwood (Arkansas at Pine Bluff), Ernie “Big Cat” Ladd (Grambling State), Ken Riley (Florida A&M), Donnie Shell (South Carolina State) and Coach W.C. Gorden (Jackson State). The seven were selected by a 13-member committee of journalists, commentators, historians and former NFL executives.
Inductees will be honored at the Sixth annual Black College Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta on Feb. 28, 2015.
The Hall was established in 2009 to honor the best players and coaches from historically black colleges and universities. The additional seven inductees now brings the number to 58. Among those already enshrined are Grambling’s Buck Buchanan, Mississippi Valley State’s David “Deacon” Jones, Bethune-Cookman’s Larry Little, Alcorn State’s Steve McNair, Jackson State’s Walter Payton, Mississippi Valley State’s Jerry Rice, Alabama A&M wide receiver John Stallworth, Texas Southern defensive end Michael Strahan and Grambling coach Eddie Robinson.
With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – “TSU Pride” was front and center Saturday in Canton, Ohio, when Tiger great Claude Humphrey was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in front of thousands of spectators including family members, friends and Tennessee State University fans lead by President Glenda Glover.
“This is the proudest day in my life,” Dr. Glover said of the induction of her fellow Memphis, Tennessee, hometown native. “This very well deserved tribute to Claude Humphrey is beyond measure. I am just too proud to see this former Tiger and a product of Memphis, where I am from to be enshrined into the Hall of Fame.”
“I have so many mixed emotions right now,” Humphrey said, as he received and unveiled his bust that will be displayed in the Hall of Fame Museum alongside many other football greats before him. “I didn’t expect to get here, but I am sure glad that I did.”
Humphrey’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is the second for a former Tiger, and it comes just three years after fellow defensive lineman Richard Dent was enshrined in 2011.
WATCH the complete acceptance speech OR READ the transcript
While many said Humphrey’s induction was long overdue, coming 33 years after he left the game, others saw it as a special moment for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, with the enshrinement of three HBCU graduates on the same day. Michael Strahan, a graduate of Texas Southern University, as well as Aeneas Williams, from Southern University, were also inducted alongside Humphrey.
“I am so happy for Claude, and it really speaks to the type of program we had at Tennessee State, having two players in the Hall of Fame,” said Dent, of his fellow Tiger. “It was a long-time coming, but well-deserved.”
Humphrey, Strahan and Williams were three of seven to be inducted on Saturday, joining Derrick Brooks, Ray Guy, Walter Jones and Andre Reed.
In his 30-minute speech, Humphrey paid tribute to his alma mater, making special references to President Glover for being present at the enshrinement, and his former coach, the late John Merritt, whom he described as “the greatest coach in black college football.”
“A lot of recruiters came to visit me, but none like John Merritt,” Humphrey said of his former coach and collegiate playing career. “To me, he was the greatest. We lost a total of five games in four years.”
Humphrey, the former Atlanta Falcon, who retired with the Philadelphia Eagles, was a three-time All-American defensive tackle at TSU from 1964 to 1967. He ended his collegiate career as the all-time leader in sacks at TSU with 39. He is tied for second behind Lamar Carter along with fellow TSU legend Richard Dent.
Humphrey was selected in the first round of the 1968 NFL Draft going third overall to the Atlanta Falcons. During his rookie season in Atlanta, he was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Humphrey played 13 seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons (1968-74, 76-77) and the Philadelphia Eagles (1979-81).
While with Atlanta, he was named All-NFL or All-Pro eight times and was selected to the Pro Bowl on six different occasions.
Humphrey is only the second Falcon to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Ben Ray Harrell, ’70, a brother of Humphrey’s late wife Sandra, called the newly inductee “just an all over great guy.”
“This day is so fitting and could not have happened to a better person than Claude Humphrey,” said Harrell. “If there is anything that is missing here today is his wife not being here by his side. They loved each other very much.”
Nashville Councilman Howard Gentry ’74, ‘04, who presented a proclamation to Humphrey on behalf of the City Council, described the enshrinement as a fulfillment of former TSU President Walter Davis’ (1943-1968) dream for TSU to not just be recognized as a great sports program among “black schools,” but a great program compared to any in the nation.
“Claude’s induction and that of Richard Dent three years ago are an embodiment of that dream, and I couldn’t be prouder of their achievement” Gentry said.
Tony Wells ’92, president of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association, like President Glover, said the enshrinement of Humphrey was a very proud moment for the whole TSU family.
“His mention of TSU, President Glover, and his days at the institution (during his speech) before the whole world was an indication of his pride and his appreciation for the preparation he received at the school,” said Wells. “I couldn’t be prouder as I am today.”
Also toting the “TSU Pride” was the University’s 290-member marching show band, the Aristocrat of Bands, which put up a crowd-pleasing performance to thunderous, continuous cheers during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Parade in downtown Canton Saturday. The band also put up another non-stop cheering, eight-minute performance during the half-time show of the nationally televised Hall of Fame game between the New York Giants and the Buffalo Bills at Fawcett Stadium.
With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.